Astronomers use a wide range of scientific techniques to study the universe and its origins.

What does an astronomer do?

Astronomers study the formation of galaxies, and planetary science, among other things. There are two main areas of study:

  • observational astronomy
  • theoretical astronomy

The observational side involves collecting data from satellites and spacecraft using radio and optical telescopes, developing software to interpret images captured by satellites, and analysing data.

Theoretical astronomers create complex computer models to develop theories on the physical processes occurring in space, analyse the results of past observations to develop new predictions, analysing data to help develop our understanding of events in the universe. 

What do I need to do to become an astronomer?

You will need to have studied a relevant subject, such as physics or astronomy; have a lot of patience, and good powers of observation. 

Related skills

  • Attention to detail
  • Communication
  • Interpersonal skills
  • IT
  • Problem solving

Academic route

  • GCSEs (A-C), including maths, English and science
  • A levels, including maths and physics

Related subjects

  • Maths
  • Physics

Essential qualifications

  • BSc Hons degree in maths, physics, astrophysics, geophysics, astronomy or space science

Desirable qualifications

  • PhD in your specialist area of interest

Where to find out more

Where could I be working?

You may get a job working as a research fellow at a university, laboratory or research institution. You may also work at an observatory, museum or for the Ministry of Defence, or other government departments. 

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0

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